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Thread: Adyashanti's Shikantaza/True Meditation

  1. #1

    Adyashanti's Shikantaza/True Meditation

    Adyashanti is a very famous spiritual teacher from San Francisco who awakened through Zen practice. He doesn't teach in the traditional Zen style but what he calls as "true meditation" is essentially shikantaza practice. I'm describing the practice here, mostly in his words so that it will help clarify our shikantaza practice.

    Here are some useful snippets from his "True Meditation" book that I found useful for my practice; Hope you too will find this useful. It feels to me what he teaches is true shikantaza, but I would like to hear your views on this.


    Ending the War with the Mind:

    "If you try to win the war with your mind, you'll be at war forever". He describes his Zen practice and how initially his meditation was a struggle, like a war with his mind, with lot of control and will involved. As he felt it is not working out, he describes how he investigated in his experience what truly letting go of control meant. "I started to meditate in a different way. I let go of the idea of what meditation was supposed to be. So I would sit down and let my experience simply be, in a very deep way. I started to let go of trying to control my experience. That became the beginning of discovering for myself what True Meditation is. From that point on, that shift - moving from trying to perfect a technique or discipline to actually letting go of technique and discipline - started to inform the way I engage in meditation"

    An Attitude of Innocence:

    "The problem lies in the attitude with which we engage meditation. If our attitude is an attitude of control and manipulation - if we take the approach that we are going to master a discipline - then the attitude gets in the way. It's actually the mind or the ego that's meditating. Real meditation is not about mastering a technique; it's about letting go of control. The awakened state of being, the enlightened state of being, can also be called the natural state of being. How can control and manipulation possibly lead us to our natural state?"

    Relinquishing Control and Manipulation:

    For a human being to let go of control is an immense thing. It sounds easy to say, "Just let go of control." But for most human beings our entire psychological structure is made up almost entirely of control. To ask a mind or ego to let go of control is then a revolutionary idea. "What if I let go of control," the mind says, "and nothing happens?". What if I sit down to meditate, letting everything be as it is and nothing happens? This is usually why we grab on to some technique or to some discipline, because the mind is afraid that if it lets go of control, nothing will happen. What I am suggesting in True Meditation is that we actually see, that we look at meditation as a way to investigate. True Meditation isn't really a new technique so much as it is a way of investigating for yourself - in your own body, in your own mind, upon the authority of your own experience - what happens when you relinquish control and allow your experience to be exactly as it is without trying to change it. So it's not that we just let everything be as it is as a goal, as an endpoint. If you make it a goal, you miss the point. The point isn't simply to allow everything to be as it is; that's just the base, the underlying attitude. From that underlying attitude, lots of things become possible. That's the space in which we are gifted with what we need to see"

    Moving Beyond the Meditator:

    "As contradictory as it may sound, the art of meditation is to let go of the meditator. So the meditator is that part of you, that aspect, which would be trying. The meditator in you would be trying to still your mind, follow your breath, or trying to attain a certain state. The meditator is that part of you that’s trying to make something happen. The meditator is that part of you that may have heard about or learned about meditation and how to do it and what it’s supposed to be. And so the first movement of true meditation is to begin to let go of the meditator. Let go of the one who’s making effort, of the one who’s trying to change or the one who’s trying to meditate well. Reconnect with your being. Reconnect with your body. We’re simply allowing everything to be as it is. Not trying to change anything.

    As you begin to let go of the meditator, to let go of effort, your mind may feel a little disoriented, because there is nothing for the meditator to do. When the meditator is not struggling, not trying to do it right, not trying to attain, this opens up the experience of allowing everything to be as it is."

    Effortless Effort:

    "Meditating in an effortless way is not the same thing as being lazy. One of the profound instructions my teacher used to give when I talk to her about my meditation is this. "Is it Vivid? Is it alive?. This is a very good instruction. If we are simply making no effort in a way that's lazy, then our meditation gets dreamy and foggy. Effortless doesn't mean being lazy or falling into sleep; effortless means just enough effort to be vivid, present, to be here, to be now. To be bright. Too much effort and we get too tight; too little effort and we get dreamy. We each need to find out for ourselves what this means."

    Our Natural Tendency Is to Awaken:

    "We are biologically and psychologically wired to move toward awakening. When we let go of the control, the nature of our being is to awaken. It is natural for the mind to wander a bit initially when you let go of control. It's like keeping your dog on a leash; when you take the leash off, the tendency of the dog is to run. Your dog may run away from you quickly but if you hang out for a while, eventually it will decide to come back to you. In a similar way, when you let go of control, even though the mind might be a bit noisy for a while, eventually its tendency will be to return to a state of harmony"

    Awareness is Dynamic:

    "Allowing everything to be as it is doesn't generate a static state. Awareness may go to your foot, to pain, or to tension. It may go to a sense of joy. It may hear a bird outside and might spontaneously listen to the bird, then it may become global and take in everything all at once. Awareness may suddenly become curious about silence itself and enter into silence. Allowing everything to be as it is actually generates a much more dynamic inner environment than the words suggest. You have to discover within yourself what this actually means. By letting go, we allow awareness to do what it wants to do. It goes where it needs to go. We realize that awareness has an intelligence in and of itself. The invitation for you as a meditator is to become very engaged with where awareness wants to go, with what it wants to experience. You are engaged; you're right with it. You are willing to go where awareness wants to go"

    Live in the Same way you Meditate:

    He suggests to take the practice to life and allow everything as is, in our daily life. "You can be driving in your car and have the practice of allowing the traffic to be as it is. You can have the practice of letting yourself feel as you feel. Or the next time you meet your friend or lover, you can investigate the experience of allowing them to be as they are completely. What it is like to allow yourself to be as you are completely? When we really come out of resistance to experience, in that inner attitude of non-grasping, in those moments of surrender we discover something very potent and powerful. That is the space in which wisdom arises, in which "Ahas" arise. It is the space in which we can be informed by the wholeness of consciousness, not just by a little speck of consciousness in our mind."


    - Sam

  2. #2
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Where are you?

    gassho


    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  3. #3
    I am in Los Angeles, California. Not sure if that is what you asked for though

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    It sure wasn't!

    Sent from my SGH-I317M using Tapatalk 2
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Too much.

    I prefer to just sit.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  6. #6
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Too much.

    I prefer to just sit.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin

  7. #7
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hi Sam,
    Very interesting.

    However, I think this eight point methodology, while it might inspire, might also in fact get in the way of true sitting. Everything is contained in our Zazen, which is beyond the discriminating mind that might sub-divide our practice into the pleasing symmetry of eight.

    That's just my novice two cent's worth. But I may be just misguided and ill informed on this matter.

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Last edited by Myozan Kodo; 04-18-2013 at 07:31 PM.
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  8. #8
    I'm sorry for the confusion guys; Adyashanti doesn't teach it as an eight point methodology. These are just excerpts that I picked up from his book and those are the chapter names.

    The only instruction for meditation is this: No-Manipulation of your experience. Allowing everything to be exactly as it is.

    Now all these additional things are from the "True Meditation" book he has written and those are to clarify the practice. For example he has a chapter called "Effortless Effort" just because people might misunderstand "Allow everything to be as is" to sit and be lazy.

    A bit introduction about Adyashanti: I first came to Shikantaza practice through his "True Meditation" and he is an amazing teacher. Infact this entire book is made out of an impromptu speech/teisho given by him. All his books are written that way and they are all very popular. He started practicing Zen when he was 21 and was awakened by 25. He is very popular and his retreats are always full and they have a lottery system for each retreat with a big waiting list. Even his weekend intensives also get full quickly and the only one I attended had about 700 people.

    Here is a video interview, where he talks about his awakening:

  9. #9
    I think we must be fair here:
    As Sam writes, the above approach is not to be considered a step-by-step plan.
    Likewise we could transcribe all Beginner's videos here (which would probably result in a much longer text) and draw the conclusion that our Shikantaza practice must be very complicated - otherwise, why talk so much about it?

    I've listened to several Adyashanti lectures and while his approach is similar, there are some decisive differences to our Shikantaza practice here in my opinion.
    (However, I've not listend to the above video - yet.)

    The main difference IMHO is the general context:
    Adyashanti's practice seems to have awakening/enlightenment as a goal.
    On the other hand our Shikantaza practice is without any goals, it consists in the dropping of all goals, and that's the beauty of it!
    If there is a realization/awakening, that's fine, but this is not the "final goal". We have the term of practice-enlightenment (best refer to Kodo Sawaki about this).
    However, Adyashanti seems to be more relaxed about the enlightenment thing than some Rinzai traditions (and no - I don't want to say that any practice mentioned in this post is "better" than the others - just as a disclaimer!).

    Maybe I must read more by Adyashanti, but at least that's the impression I have gained by his lectures.

    To each their own - for some people Rinzai is best, for some Soto, and for others Adyashanti. Everyone needs to find the path that suits them best.

    NB:IMHO even for Soto people Adyashanti's talks are very interesting/enjoyable (at least those talks I know - I've not listened to the above yet) and highly recommended.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Too much.

    I prefer to just sit.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    I also agree ... Just sit, simple and sweet!

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  11. #11
    I wrote this some years ago, and my opinion is about the same. I do not criticize easily, but sometimes my "spider senses" vibrate about some folks ...

    I first looked into Adyashanti's writings about 5 years ago, when he was heartily recommended by a friend. I read everything I could at the time, and listened or watched the recorded talks I could. What I thus say is based on my impression, my gut reaction and some of the claims he makes for himself. Since that time I have looked at or listened to other talks, and my opinion is about the same.

    In a nutshell, I see someone who is trying a bit hard (and succeeding) to make a career as a California style Guru. My conclusion is based in part on the persona, but also on the content of his talks. I find someone who is very charismatic, and may have had an experience here and there ... but he seems extremely well studied, as if he memorized every Tolle and 100 other books and is just regurgitating/reformulating/repackaging the contents under a new label. He throws around the same old, tired old, buzzwords of Eastern Wisdom, casting himself as one who has crossed over to the other side. He speaks with a very smooth tongue, but all does not ring true to me. In talks he gives, I often have picked up on sections which sound like pure New Age, cosmic double talk too. Out there in California, there are 1000 guys trying to make a career out of a funky name and a like persona, and this one does not ring true (though he is very gifted as someone playing the part he is).
    I will add this: I am not saying that everything he says is foolish (it isn't. There is some very nice sections and advice in what was posted above. Because he is repackaging standard advice picked up here and there, and common advice on "just sitting", there is some good stuff here and there). He is also better and smoother at the pitch over the years. I think he is a very charismatic individual (a kind of anti-charisma charisma).

    I once described him as marketing himself (yes, I will call it "marketing" by a very smooth talker like a good shoe salesman) as an "anti-guru" ... your guru who keeps telling you that he is "not a guru" (thus a great guru better than those who call themselves "guru") who offers enlightenment by saying it is "not enlightenment". That video is a good example. Some good, basic wisdom with much spiritual posing and double-talk.

    Just to make clear ... I do not think the Adyashanti is a nefarious evildoer, and there are certainly a lot worse out there ... I even think he may be well meaning at heart (seems like a gentle fellow), plus he has a relaxing voice and a very pleasant manner. I think he is extremely smooth and practiced in his presentation, very well read in the literature of other like teachers, and it is all soothing to the ear of people looking for that kind of thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    He is very popular and his retreats are always full and they have a lottery system for each retreat with a big waiting list. Even his weekend intensives also get full quickly and the only one I attended had about 700 people.
    Yes, the line at the drive-thru at McDonalds is sometimes very long too.

    Spiritual Buyer Beware.

    Deep-pockets Chopra is another fellow who gets my goat.

    Gassho, Jundo (in his "kids, get off my lawn" mood )
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-19-2013 at 03:30 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Hello Jundo,

    the "kids, get off my lawn" comment just made my day

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Hello Jundo,

    the "kids, get off my lawn" comment just made my day

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    absolutely

  14. #14
    @Jundo:
    Personally I think your view of Adyashanti is probably too harsh (meaning my impression of him is different), but maybe you are right - that's hard to tell.
    I guess he gives you those feelings I get when it comes to Tolle. Whenever I read/see/hear Tolle I always think about money for some reason. But maybe I am wrong in that case, I am just unable to make heard or tail of him...

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  15. #15
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Where are you?
    don't understand-
    only saps buy vowels

  16. #16
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    It sure wasn't!
    don't understand-
    only saps buy vowels

  17. #17
    Well, guys,
    dont be too harsh (and thats also directed towards me). I like Adyashanti a lot, though I just have not enough time to also follow his latest books; But seriously: you cannot say this is _too much_ and we _just sit_ and then go and say somewhere else how inspiring Dogen is. I mean Dogen also write a whole bunch, right, so its not about how much people tend to say or write and we not just burn all books. Anyway, I dont care if Adyashanti's approach is shikantaza from some aspect or not, he inspired my practice at some point and I'm grateful for that. If he's not inspiring you thats perfectly ok too, its not exactly the game we play here (Karate vs Judo as Jundo might say). Thank you Sam and everyone contributing, Thank you very much.
    Gassho
    Myoku

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Where are you?
    Where are you not?

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  19. #19
    I feel Jundo's post is harsh on Adyashanti and doesn't reflect the truth at all.

    In my opinion Adyashanti is as genuine and real as any spiritual teacher can get. I have not seen any teacher living or dead, talk so lucidly and explain what awakening is so wonderfully. This includes Dogen, Buddha and the future maitreya buddha!

  20. #20
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    I have not seen any teacher living or dead, talk so lucidly and explain what awakening is so wonderfully.
    hmmm. there is an old Zen saying that goes something like this: "those who know don't speak, and those who speak don't know." At the beginning of your initial post on this thread, you state outright that Adyashanti does not teach in the "traditional Zen style." Surely, you understand that Jundo and Taigu do teach in the traditional Zen style, and that we, as a group, practice in that style. Otherwise ...

  21. #21
    >Whenever I read/see/hear Tolle I always think about money for some reason

    I thought that The Power of Now was okay, although Thich Nhat Hanh explains mindfulness much better for my money. He really lost me with A New Earth as it seemed to buy into all kinds of New Age nonsense that didn't make any sense.

    There seems to be a place for people like Adyashanti for those who want to learn practices outside of a religious tradition. I can't say he has ever really spoken to me, though, maybe because I like the depth that tends to come with tradition and lineage.

    To each their own.

    Andy

  22. #22
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    >I like the depth that tends to come with tradition and lineage.
    Well said, Andy.

    Gassho, William

  23. #23
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post

    To each their own.

    Andy
    Totally agree.

    Two concerns.

    Looking at their retreat offering they seem a little expensive, €515 + €557 for accommodation.

    Googling Adyashanti suggests he was a student of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, and just that, a student. Personally I like the idea of lineage, dharmma transmissions etc. I'd be nervous about following a teaching that doesn't have a track record if you like. Just my opinion.

    All the best & Gassho
    Matt

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by William Anderson View Post
    hmmm. there is an old Zen saying that goes something like this: "those who know don't speak, and those who speak don't know." At the beginning of your initial post on this thread, you state outright that Adyashanti does not teach in the "traditional Zen style." Surely, you understand that Jundo and Taigu do teach in the traditional Zen style, and that we, as a group, practice in that style. Otherwise ...
    In my opinion teachers like Jundo who are in a responsible position should be careful when they criticize other teachers like this. Reason#1 there can be students like me who like the teacher being criticized and might be offended. Reason #2 There can be students who can be misled by the opinions of the teacher which may or may not be true.

  25. #25
    Matt,

    Adyashanti is student of Zen teacher Arvis Justi (who is the student of Maezumi roshi). Yes traditions and transmissions have their value but what tradition did Buddha follow? He was an iconoclast himself; had he not followed his true heart and followed the ascetic practices of the then hindu tradition, we would have no buddha, no buddhism. Just my 2 cents

    Sam

  26. #26
    Not my cup of tea. After watching the posted video a few things spring to mind (I’ll probably get into trouble for this , but here it goes):

    Right in the first question asked, I got a funny feeling. A vague “something is off” feeling. A profound realization as the start for an epic search for truth? ( Where did I hear that before?) Not just a common realization but a profound one! At 7 years old mind you. I for one played with lego when I was 7 and only cared for sweets and lemonade. The loss of TV privileges meant great suffering but then again I was a happy kid in a warm home. Many children lose their careless view of the world due to the harsh realities of life. That is not special at all. This way he taps into the popular and vague understanding of enlightenment. If it’s a good one, it comes at an early age like piano prodigies or math wizards. No old roshi that opens his mouth after a lifetime of hard discipline and with poor eyesight because of all that reading. No a prodigy,treoubled with his insight. Then he establishes how hard he worked meditating to get where he is now.Like the great abs ad. So again he taps into admiration of people who could never do this themselves. His teacher was a humble and simple. So it must be a special one! He did it all alone for a long time in silence so he is very exceptional ( eeeeeerrrrrr......welcome to Treeleaf). He had death premonitions at a young age and a power greater than his own took over at a certain point. Then he suffered deeply etc. etc. All combined, it sounds a bit like the script of The karate kid to me.

    Once ground of authority is firm and well established, he starts to paraphrase others and posing some great insights from the classics as his own. What probably triggers the much feared “spider senses” is the fact that nothing he says is new, confrontational or seems to be “lived through” the hard way ( like “the dharma is utterly useless” with the band aid still showing , Gassho Taigu sensei). He only seems to keep proving he is the real deal over and over again. He doesn’t say he found in his very own way what the great ones have spoken about in the past, but says these are all his own realizations and he is here to help us. A bit messianic. ( in lack of a better term) That troubles me and the feeling stayed with me during the interview. Maybe it gets better later on but frankly I got tired of it after a while and shut it off. Sorry.

    I hope this does not offend some of the people who share another view? It is strictly my own observation of the interview as posted and I'm hoping for a good discussion. Just to compare we should look at an interview wit say S. Suzuki or something. The difference is immediately evident. Again I’m basing this on the posted vid. But this material does not invite further investigation for me.

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  27. #27
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Hi Sam,
    You are correct, I misread an article. You make a good point.
    Well, whatever path you choose be safe and be happy.
    All the best & Gassho,
    Matt

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    In my opinion teachers like Jundo who are in a responsible position should be careful when they criticize other teachers like this. Reason#1 there can be students like me who like the teacher being criticized and might be offended.
    Why should you feel offended if someone criticizes a teacher you like? You are not identical to that person.
    If you feel offended only because another person criticizes a teacher you like that's a sure sign of attachment.
    IMHO it's Jundo's (and anyone's) good right to utter their opinion - otherwise we were no better than a sulky little child or a Christian feeling insulted because of a Jesus joke.

    It is one thing to like a teacher, but a whole different game to feel offended just because someone does not think good of him!
    Breathe... let go, relax.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  29. #29
    I just watched the video - not familiar with Adyashanti. I can understand that people feel he's a good teacher - he has a calm manner and is very articulate. I guess we all learn in different ways but what makes me feel solid 'here' is that Jundo and Taigu never trade on their spiritual experiences. I find it offputting to listen to 'stories' of awakening because someone else's story is like poetry - it is metaphor and it doesn't necessarily have any truth value. I couldn't pick up on anything from the video that isn't laid out in primary texts - like Dogen and the traditional sources of Zen. In essence - I feel there are too many words out there and it can be very seductive. I like the way the teaching is presented in a 'true to the sources' way round here - probably not explaining this very well - but I feel there's a subtle difference. Anyway - too many words, Gassho, Willow

  30. #30
    I'm curious about two things here:

    1) what does he (Adyashanti) mean when he talks about his awakening or opening experiences? I listened to enough of the video to hear about what he identified as very pivotal experiences he had at 8 & 25 years old. I feel like I had similar kinds of things happen at similar ages - moments where I looked at the world and realized it just was NOT what I had thought it was. I think most people have such kinds of things happen to them, for instance, walking alone in the forest as a child, or looking up at the stars and really paying attention to them for the first time. I don't understand what is interesting/significant about his stories. There must be something else to what he's saying?

    2) I also don't understand why what this man has to say is pushing so many peoples' buttons (including mine). There're a zillion people out there making bank on ideas that are WAY more troublesome than what he's presenting. Is it that what he's saying is in many ways so close to what we're studying and practicing here?

  31. #31
    Hi Brian - point 1 - I don't think he's saying that his stories are more significant - he recognises that its the norm to lose the insights of childhood. Later he talks of losing the 'taste' of identity - which is interesting - but also ironic because from what I can glean his identity as a teacher is very strong. I think this is what Jundo was hinting at?

    The philosophical discussion about the 'void' is interesting enough - but I'm a stickler for anyone in a teaching position referencing their sources and this seems to happen so rarely in the plethora of videos, books etc that are out there.

    What he's saying - and so many others are saying - is probably bound to be close to what we study/practice here. There's an almighty river of learning/thoughts/ideas/beliefs out there - and it all flows from the same source



    Willow

  32. #32
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    An interesting thread and I understand many of the points made and why they were made. He reminds me of Eckhart Tolle in his self referential style. I don't know why people feel a drive to be a teacher, or if the need to be seen rather than 'to be' overides any of their experiences. I get the feeling that they got off the bus before the end of the journey. In my experience as a teacher (of children) when you are truly engaged in the act of teaching you are so focussed on the person you are teaching that you for all intents and purposes 'disappear'. It doesn't happen often but when it does it derives from humility and compassionate awareness of the other. I have always been amazed at how both Jundo and Taigu are so immersed in what people are saying that their responses not only target whoever they are replying to, but resonate to a wider audience. This only comes from total immersion, commitment and humility, a place a bit further down the line imho. Gassho.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  33. #33
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Taigu
    Where are you?


    Quote Originally Posted by LimoLama View Post
    Where are you not?

    Gassho,

    Timo
    these sorts of posts/ this sort of verbage/ these sorts of rejoinders in Zen contexts leave me totally confused and frustrated.

    with respect and not understanding,

    gassho,

    -Robert
    only saps buy vowels

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Heisoku View Post
    ... I have always been amazed at how both Jundo and Taigu are so immersed in what people are saying that their responses not only target whoever they are replying to, but resonate to a wider audience. This only comes from total immersion, commitment and humility ...
    Heisoku,

    Beautifully put, thank you for that.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Heisoku,

    Beautifully put, thank you for that.

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Yes - in a nutshell - totally agree.

    Gassho

    Willow

  36. #36
    Indeed, there are always pioneers. Personally, I like the fact we get not only the (considerable) experience of Jundo and Taigu here, but the wisdom of their teachers and many others before, including Dogen and Bodhidharma. The benefit of lineage and tradition, for me, is that there are checks and balances with other teachers in the same tradition there to put one back on the right course either privately or (less often) publicly. There does also seem to be far less of a cult of personality and making money.

    That is not to say that 'go it alone' teachers cannot be good or worth learning from. The very best teachers often have to break free from what has gone before to move forward. Those true pioneers like Bodhidharma, Tsongkhapa and Shakyamuni Buddha, to name but three, were exceptional people and many do not thrive so well cut off from the wellspring of tradition. During my (relatively short) time studying the dharma I have noticed several teachers put forward methods for going 'beyond Buddhism' such as Big Mind and Unlearning Meditation yet, on closer inspection, the problems they claim to have with traditional practice has already been noticed by traditional teachers and included already. Adyashanti's problem of being attached to meditation and needing to go beyond it seems a further case in point.

    Adyashanti seems to be a good teacher with good motivation. This is a pretty traditional Zen sangha, though, so there are bound too be differences in approach that trigger cautionary comments. I have other teachers I learn from too but would hesitate to mention anyone living outside of the lineage here as there are already two excellent teachers to ask questions of if we need advice on how to sit.

    Andy

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    I feel Jundo's post is harsh on Adyashanti and doesn't reflect the truth at all.

    In my opinion Adyashanti is as genuine and real as any spiritual teacher can get. I have not seen any teacher living or dead, talk so lucidly and explain what awakening is so wonderfully. This includes Dogen, Buddha and the future maitreya buddha!
    Hi,

    I honestly express that I think something is "off" with this teacher, not authentic, does not ring true. I may be wrong (of course, I feel I am not wrong or I would not say so), and he might be the greatest thing since apple pie. I appreciate many Advaita teachers who do ring true for me (even if I do not practice such system. Likewise, many Catholic and Christian priests and ministers, Jewish Rabbis who strike me a real and sincere though I do not Practice those traditions. Other ministers, televangelists and such ring false.)

    If I am wrong, I am sure that Adyashanti would not care because, in his "Enlightenment", he is beyond all such petty concerns.

    And if I am right, I am sure he still would not be much bothered or even hear about it.

    Further, those who really believe in the fellow will continue to do so. One thing I do know is that it is almost impossible to change anyone's views about their religious or political heroes. (The reason is something we humans are prone to called "cognitive dissonance") ...

    http://www.skepdic.com/cognitivedissonance.html

    So, I just offer a perspective and leave it there.

    Right now, I am facing a similar situation in the Zen world, translating Japanese reports from old newspapers about a Japanese Roshi who caused a pretty nasty scandal in Japan years ago, was convicted and sentenced to prison for it, then came to America and engaged in various sexual shenanigans ... all unknown or (known but) denied by those around him for years. (By the way, Adyashanti seems like a pretty straight and honest fellow, and I am in no way talking about something like that in his case). In the Japanese Roshi's case, his most loyal followers are doing everything in their power to rationalize away the story, paper it over, deny it, shoot the messengers, talk of some conspiracy to "get" their hero. The disease of hero worship to the point of not seeing ... not even looking because one does not want to see ... is in the Zen world too, all religions, politics.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Yes, in Taigu and my case, it is obvious that we are two foolish and imperfect guys ... though well meaning. I will agree with that. More than anyone's "guru", we are more like your grandmother ... generally warm, well meaning, even frequently filled with wise advice, and at other times annoying, small minded and embarrassing.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-21-2013 at 05:03 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  38. #38
    I have seen Adia's videos before but never read any of his books. My general impression is that his message is positive although I have my reservations about his awakening experience. Heart beat up to 200 beats per min? Information being "downloaded" into his mind from I do not know where? It sound too new agey and a bit scary to me. I am not a seasoned meditator but the best experiences I have had while sitting have been completely ordinary and nothing more. I do not think that his idea of crossing to the other side accurately reflects what true enlightment probably is. The beauty of Zen in my view is in its simplicity. No complicated practice...no fancy words...no-thing special.

    Gassho,

  39. #39
    To all those who doubt his awakening: His Zen teacher confirmed his awakening and asked him to teach and that's when he started to teach. He started teaching in the traditional Zen style (robes, zafus, dokusans etc...) but then his teaching evolved naturally to what it is now. He was initially worried about this and asked his Zen teacher to come and visit one of his group meetings and she came in and in the end said "now thats zen"; here is a link

    http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/03...now-thats-zen/

    My opinion of him is not formed just by a couple of videos. I read all his five books, attended his weekend intensive and personally saw how his words just flow through spontaneously. You just cannot fake it. The true meditation book and few of his other books too he just sat and gave an impromptu talk and the editors published it like that. If you read those books, you would be amazed at how someone can speak such wisdom and so spontaneously.

    I don't even care about all of the above, how impressive he is, how he talks about awakening etc... What I was attracted most to was his "True Meditation" method. As I told you earlier I have been doing mantra meditation for some years and when I heard him say, just sit and allow everything to be as it is, I felt an instant attraction to it. I didn't know that there is something similar in Zen called Shikantaza. As he started teaching in a non-traditional zen style (mixture of advaita self-inquiry and shikantaza meditation), some of the zen teachers talk disapprovingly of him (and some zen teachers I met did say he was a great teacher too). That could be the reason why he doesn't want to call his method shikantaza and create more confusion.

    Anyway my main question is this. Forget Adya. Is the method he proposes shikantaza? if we stay alert with effortless effort and let our experience be as it is without any manipulation is that same as shikantaza? I'm not planning to leave my zafu and sit "only" as per what he says. I see the value of teacher/tradition/lineage/transmission. For the past 2 months every weekend I go and sit with my zen teacher, I see that my meditation becomes much better for the next few days (awareness comes back to the current moment much sooner, less getting caught up). So there is definitely a value-add. But I want to use Adya's instructions to help/clarify my practice. I think sitting with non-manipulation (just let sitting sit) is the most important thing for shikantaza and other things (spine straight, zafu, eyes open, facing wall vs room, being buddhist) help but are not very important. Is my understanding correct?

    - Sam

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post

    Anyway my main question is this. Forget Adya. Is the method he proposes shikantaza? if we stay alert with effortless effort and let our experience be as it is without any manipulation is that same as shikantaza?
    Hi Sam,

    I will try to respond because you ask.

    As I wrote in my first post above, "There is some very nice sections and advice in what was posted above." I like where he says such as:

    I would sit down and let my experience simply be, in a very deep way. I started to let go of trying to control my experience. That became the beginning of discovering for myself what True Meditation is.

    I think I concur with the statement: "Real meditation is not about mastering a technique; it's about letting go of control."

    Apart from that, I am not sure. He speaks about some other things that sound pretty fuzzy and "double speak" to me, and I do not find him as lucid and clear in his explanations as you may encounter. It may be my own lack of an ear for this, but to me he is one of those fellows who says something that sounds like it sounds like something ... and he says it very smoothly and charmingly ... but one has to scratch one's head a bit in asking "what does that really mean?" (We have lots of folks like that in the Zen world too. Suzuki Roshi was one, but that was mostly due to his terrible command of English I think). I am sorry, but I don't get sentences like:

    By letting go, we allow awareness to do what it wants to do. It goes where it needs to go. We realize that awareness has an intelligence in and of itself. The invitation for you as a meditator is to become very engaged with where awareness wants to go, with what it wants to experience. You are engaged; you're right with it. You are willing to go where awareness wants to go"


    Sounds like something, sounds like "Eastern Wisdom" of some kind, but not sure just what. It may be that I am simply not attuned to it. Sorry, and it may not be so for others.

    Also note this:

    One vital aspect of Shikantaza I regularly point to is the following. We have had this conversation a few times now, Sam, and this must not be left out of Zazen as Dogen encouraged it. When practicing Shikantaza, SHIKANTAZA MUST BE SHIKANTAZA'D WITH A CERTAIN UNDERSTANDING RIGHT TO THE MARROW, to wit:

    Seated Zazen is our ONE AND ONLY practice, for by the very nature of Shikantaza ... when sitting Zazen, there is nothing more to do, nothing more that need be done, no addition needed nor anything to take away. Zazen is complete and whole. No other place to be in all the world, no other place we must (or can) run to. Nothing lacks, all is sacred, and Zazen is the One Liturgy. It is vital to be sat by Zazen with such attitude. Thus, Zazen is sat each day as the One and Whole Practice. If one sits any other way, if one sits with any sensation of "'I' need to fill some hole that is not Whole" ... one kills Zazen, gets nowhere. If one sits Zazen, one need do no other practice!
    Why?

    I have explained often, but the crazy wisdom goes like this:

    Our small self, the body-mind, is always filled with countless desires ... the desire to be somewhere else, be getting somewhere, achieving some prize, some distant goal. Our body-mind is always judging this or that as somehow inadequate to what the body-mind wants, its likes and dislikes, needs, regrets and dreams.

    Thus, when there is sat an instant of Zazen as wholeness in just sitting, the only place to be and act to do in that instant, in all of reality, to fulfill life as life ... the Buddha and all the Ancestors just sitting in that instant of sitting, no other thing to attain or which ever can be attained ... no other place to go or in need of going ... all holes filled, whether full or empty or in between ... all lack and excess resolved in that one sitting, with not one thing to add or take away ... judgments dropped away, "likes and dislikes" put aside ... nothing missing from Zazen (even when we might feel that "something is missing", for one can be fully content with the feeling of lack!) ... the sitting of Zazen and all life experienced as complete and whole as just the sitting of Zazen ... the entire universe manifesting itself on the Zafu at that moment ...

    ... [then] the "little self" is thereby put out of a job by the experience of "just sitting" as whole and complete with nothing more to be desired or needed[.]

    Human beings simply do not know how to act an action pierced as naturally complete just by the act of the action itself, how to live life that is whole just by the act of living life.

    ...

    If you simply sit with the attitude that your Zazen in that moment is "perfectly whole, just complete unto itself, without borders and duration, not long or short, nothing to add or take away, containing all moments and no moments in "this one moment" ... then IT IS! IT IS because you learn to treat and taste it as so. Your learning how to treat it as so, makes it so. If you can learn to sit there feeling about Zazen, and all of life, that "there is not one thing to add or take away" ... then, guess what: there is not one thing to add or take away precisely because you feel that way. Each moment is perfectly whole when you can see each moment as perfectly whole.
    Anyway, Sam, maybe the above also sounds like "fuzzy spiritual double speak" to many folks, so I may be guilty-as-charged too.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-20-2013 at 05:11 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  41. #41
    All your messages are very interesting, thank you. Adyanshanti doubtless has qualities, human and intellectual. But as soon as a guru or master is nice, or the worse attractive, it is necessary to run away. The seduction, even intellectual, transform the teacher into obstacle.
    Adyashanti is successful: then it is also necessary to avoid him. One day Kodo Sawaki declared: the fate of a Zen monk is to die only by the roadside (for me, it is a big koan).
    Kosen

  42. #42
    Thanks for the clarification Jundo. I happened to read a book in a local library by a buddhist teacher just today which explained a similar thing. That there are two things both of which are equally important;

    - A true belief in one's intrinsic buddha nature
    - Practicing Zazen

    As per what he says though they sound contradicting they are not and they both are essential for awakening. Just believing in one's buddha nature without practice is merely a belief and will not do any good. Practice without believing in one's intrinsic buddha nature will make practitioner try hard to be somewhere other than where he is and to reject what he has and to strive to get to something else which will never work.

    I think that's why Zen stresses the important of goalless practice.

    One issue I have though is this. Don't you think sitting with an attitude or belief can come in the way of pure sitting? Or do you mean it more like having a belief outside practice and/or repeating that as an affirmation before the start of the practice?

    - Sam

  43. #43
    Can I put the essential shikantaza points like this?

    - Sit doing nothing
    - Let your experience be as is; don't desire for certain experience & don't reject whatever is happening
    - Put right amount of effort; not manipulating your experience does not mean no effort
    - Have a belief in your intrinsic buddha nature; no where to go; nothing to gain; that zazen is good for nothing

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post

    As per what he says though they sound contradicting they are not and they both are essential for awakening. Just believing in one's buddha nature without practice is merely a belief and will not do any good. Practice without believing in one's intrinsic buddha nature will make practitioner try hard to be somewhere other than where he is and to reject what he has and to strive to get to something else which will never work.

    I think that's why Zen stresses the important of goalless practice.
    That sounds Wise and Right to me. We must "bring Buddha to life".


    One issue I have though is this. Don't you think sitting with an attitude or belief can come in the way of pure sitting? Or do you mean it more like having a belief outside practice and/or repeating that as an affirmation before the start of the practice?
    Good question!

    When we are sitting, we are not in a coma, trance or deep sleep. We are feeling something, have to be feeling something, so what should that be? In Shikantaza one should have a general feeling in one's marrow of Sacredness and Wholeness, Completeness, Nothing-More-In-Needness while sitting.

    Why?

    Because what one usually feels in one's heart is dis-satisfaction, restlessness, lack, need, worry, clutching etc. ... Dukkha.

    "Sitting As Buddha Sitting" is medicine for that.

    HOWEVER, don't think that I am saying that one should be sitting there pondering this, or intentionally repeating like a Mantra "Buddha Sitting" or the like in Shikantaza. While we don't forcibly squelch the thoughts in Shikantaza, neither is it a time for pondering. I am merely describing an attitude felt right in the bones.

    - Sit doing nothing
    - Let your experience be as is; don't desire for certain experience & don't reject whatever is happening
    - Put right amount of effort; not manipulating your experience does not mean no effort
    - Have a belief in your intrinsic buddha nature; no where to go; nothing to gain; that zazen is good for nothing
    Not quite.

    We are not "sitting doing nothing". Nor are we intentionally doing something. We are sitting beyond doing and not doing, something and nothing (and like mental categories) ... Doing-Non-Doing.

    We let the experience be, but neither do we allow ourselves to get tangled in chains of thought and runaway emotions. When finding ourself pondering or otherwise stirring up chains of thought or mental drama, we "open the hand of thought" and let it go. Then, we sit with what is.

    We put in effort to sit each day ... but we sit beyond effort or achievement. That is how we diligently achieve non-achievement.

    Yes, we feel that intrinsic Buddha Nature as one's own bones ... nothing to gain ... and thus we discover the Greatest Treasure only found when we stop running after shiny distractions.

    Gassho, J

    P.S. ...

    I fear I also engage in a kind of "fuzzy double talk".

    You know, Zen Teachers of old also said many things that sounded illogical, like riddles, mysterious. They did. That is because Zen and Mahayana Buddhism have a "logic of their own" ... a Buddhalogic ... often very different from ordinary day-to-day logic. For a Buddha, A is often not B, yet B is precisely A ... and, anyway, what "A" or "B" at all? They would use wildly poetic or wordless gestures and images to convey this ... as we encounter in our Koan reflections each week.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...TERS-BOOK-CLUB

    I put that in a different category from Mr. Adayashanti who just strikes me as often double talking. As I said, it could simply be my lack of an ear for his way of putting things.

    Last edited by Jundo; 04-21-2013 at 07:31 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  45. #45
    Hi Sam,

    There is too much to read out there. Too many teachers. I am tired of wandering in the desert. I am too old. I think I will just sit here. Listen to fellow treeleafers. Listen to Jundo and Taigu. Read Dogen. Nothing else is needed in my case.

    Gassho, John

  46. #46
    wow, so many opinions on this one. Picking up my zafu and placing it next to John C's i think .

    Oh, and in all humility dear Taigu san: YES! where are you!!!!!! (My answer to your question in the beginning of this thread.)

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  47. #47
    Listen to Jundo and Taigu. Read Dogen. Nothing else is needed in my case.
    But why not challenging your view with something different? No offense but your view seems to be a little too old, not your age Since the beginning of this post I have been watching several videos of Adiashanti on youtube and plan to buy one of his books. Why not? I have my reservations about some of the things he said, especially his awakening experience, but I will never have an informed opinion on his teachings unless I dig a little deeper (BTW, I am quite selective with the books I buy).

    To all those who doubt his awakening: His Zen teacher confirmed his awakening and asked him to teach and that's when he started to teach.
    In his video he describes his awakening as an almost supernatural experience. I am not saying it didn't happen the way he described it, but does enlightenment really happens in a flash (a "matrix-like" experience) or is it a progressive process that brings you all the way back to where you started...here. J and T are waaaaaaaay more qualified than me to clarify this point.

    (note: I like the way Steven Hagen describes what enlightenment IS NOT in his "Buddhism is not what you think”)

    Sam, thanks for starting this very interesting post!

    I will leave you with a beautiful quote of...well, I do not remember who ...but it sounds something like this...
    "We do not read to gain any knowledge, but there is great value in confirming what we already know"

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by John C. View Post
    Hi Sam,

    There is too much to read out there. Too many teachers. I am tired of wandering in the desert. I am too old. I think I will just sit here. Listen to fellow treeleafers. Listen to Jundo and Taigu. Read Dogen. Nothing else is needed in my case.

    Gassho, John

    Hi Andrea - I have a lot of sympathy for what John has written ( Taigu expresses similarly in his thread regarding this).

    I can only speak for myself on this - but I recognised a while back that the copious amount of reading I do is in part a distraction from the simplicity of practice and also involves a holding back from %100 commitment. There possibly is an age element in this as well - as fascinated as I remain with the intellectual challenge of taking on new ideas there is also a huge repetition involved in this. I know for sure that the Treeleaf reading list - as it stands - is enough to keep me going for the rest of my life. I bought fifty books last year and intend to re-read and re-read because the buying of yet another book proves to me that I'm still stuck in distracting and expecting something 'new' to come along.

    In the 'simplicity' of practice I ask myself 'what do I think I'm missing' and why do we fall into the delusion that we can learn from other people's stories of enlightenment?

    Everything we need is right here - when Dogen spoke of the lack of necessity to travel to far dusty lands seeking enlightenment I feel we can take this on several levels.

    I think I understand what John means when he says he's tired of wandering in the desert because I'm tired too

    Gassho

    Willow

  49. #49
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Jundo and I had many awakening experiences and ... This is not the point. To live an awakened life is the point. Any real Zen teacher will tell you that. As to tell you about these experiences, sorry guys, none of your business and certainly not mine as a teacher.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  50. #50
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    So much knowledge on this post.

    I may be just a simple minded dude, but I think I'll just go sit.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

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